Report: Terror attacks, deaths rise sharply


Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 30, 2007 at 10:18 p.m.

WASHINGTON - Terrorist attacks worldwide shot up 25 percent last year, particularly in Iraq where extremists used chemical weapons and suicide bombers to target crowds, according to a new State Department report.

Among countries, Iran remains the biggest supporter of terrorism, with elements of its government backing groups throughout the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, giving material support and guidance to Shiite insurgent groups that have attacked Sunnis, U.S. and Iraqi forces, the report said.

In its annual global survey of terrorism, the State Department says about 14,000 attacks took place in 2006, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. These strikes claimed more than 20,000 lives - two-thirds in Iraq. That is 3,000 more attacks than in 2005 and 5,800 more deaths. Altogether, 40 percent more people were killed by increasingly lethal means around the globe.

The report partly attributes the higher casualty figures to a 25 percent jump in the number of nonvehicular suicide bombings targeting large crowds. That overwhelmed a 12 percent dip in suicide attacks involving vehicles.

In Iraq, the use of chemical weapons, seen for the first time in a Nov. 23, 2006, attack in Sadr City, also "signaled a dangerous strategic shift in tactics,'' it says.

The number of injuries from terrorist attacks also rose by 54 percent, between 2005 and 2006, with a doubling in the number wounded in Iraq over the period, according to the department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2006.

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